THE ARCHIVES WORK BEGINS. The Archives, Museum and Research Committee was officially established in 1993 by Mani S. Irani and the other Meherazad mandali, and later approved in 1999 by the Board of Trustees of the AMBPPCT for the purpose of safeguarding and preserving for posterity Beloved Avatar Meher Baba’s precious articles and the archival records of His life and advent, and for sharing these irreplaceable links to His human form with contemporary and future humanity.

TABULATING BABA TREASURES. Starting in 1994 for a number of years much of Baba’s clothing and personal and household articles were inventoried and documented. Labels with an identification number were sewn/attached and information about the physical characteristics, condition, and history of the item was recorded and later entered in a database.

Labeled Pillow Cover

Baba’s Dining Room

ORAL HISTORY TAKING. In 1997, amidst extensive repair work on different buildings in Meherazad, the mandali also began delving into their memories of the past with Baba to record on tape the history of the buildings of Meherabad and Meherazad, and the Baba items they contain.

DESIGNING AND BUILDING THE MEM. In 1995 the facility director of the Smithsonian Institution spent several weeks at Meherabad to assist us in finalising the plans and design of the Collection Management Building, later named Manzil-e-Meher (MeM) which means House of Meher. The design was based on the principle of a thermos bottle, or a ‘box within a box’ which passively minimises changes in temperature and humidity. The storage and work rooms are surrounded by an insulating corridor, and the roof is double-layered, which separates these important areas from the building exterior, protecting the precious collection from the harsh climate extremes. The lower floor, has a large storage room for the most fragile items, with an adjoining treatment room. A freezer room for storage of film materials and pest treatment of incoming paper and cloth items is also on this floor. The upper floor has another large and smaller storage room, a room for treatment of materials which may involve wet work and an office. In the entrance are a staff room, a receiving area and a visitor area. To achieve the best conditions possible for the preservation and cataloguing of Baba’s precious belongings, as well as the numerous documents, and audiovisual materials associated with his life, special care was given to incorporate archive and museum standards in all aspects of the building’s design and construction. Ground was broken for this building in May 1997 on Meherabad Hill and the construction was put into use in 2002.

Entering the MeM

Collection Room Work Area

POLICY DEVELOPMENT. During 1998, the AMRC held a series of meetings to begin developing a Collection Management Policy. This policy defines the purpose, scope, objectives, activities, guidelines and procedures of the AMRC and the first edition of this was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1999. Another policy especially focused on use of the historic buildings and grounds at Meherazad was completed in 2001. An addendum regarding policy specific to historic areas at both Meherabad and Meherazad was adopted by the board in 2007.

REHOUSING PROJECT. In 1998 a pilot project to begin the rehousing of the written materials collections was carried out. Archival acid-free enclosures were obtained and a team of more than twenty volunteers were trained in the special handling techniques. Over the course of 3 months (during which 3 shelves of documents were transformed into 3 cupboards-full of neatly boxed and rehoused materials) it became clear that this was a very long range project which would require many helpful hands and hearts.

Collection Policy Excerpt

Rehousing Team at Work

BOOKS PROJECT. During the early years of the new millennium another extensive archival project proceeded quietly behind the scenes. Thousands of books, pamphlets and periodicals were “archalogued” (a term we coined to describe the work of cataloguing and archiving these published materials for posterity.)

FURNISHING AND EQUIPPING THE MEM. As construction of the MeM neared completion the special powder-coated archival storage cabinets were designed and manufactured. Office and other furnishings were ordered and over the next few years all these were delivered and installed. This included cabinets large enough to even hold Baba’s mattresses!

Boxed  Pamphlets

Archival Cupboards

MEHERAZAD BUILDING. As a support to maintaining the historic buildings at Meherazad and their contents and as a location to keep representative items for all parts of the collection (as a backup against any major environmental disasters in the vicinity of the MeM,) another smaller building was designed and constructed at Meherazad.

HEART TALK AND COMBINED DIARY. As a way of initiating digital sharing prior to the launch of this section of the website, in 2002 the Trust archives began posting collection materials on a weekly basis. These included the Heart Talk letters between Baba and his close ones and installments of the Combined Diary. All of these items are now available in the Collections section.

USING THE MEM AND CREATING SYSTEMS. During 2001-2002 systems were developed for managing the building, particularly focusing on the very essential housekeeping, which is the first line of defense again insects and other factors harmful to the stability of collection items. Schedules for physical plant management as well as staffing were established to create a smoothly-run environment awaiting arrival of collection items.

Digital Files in CD Boxes

Housekeeping Schedule

MONITORING AND VENTILATION SYSTEM. From 2001 onwards the MeM was monitored by data loggers to measure the temperature and humidity fluctuations through the seasons. It was determined that a ventilation system to introduce cooler, dry air when necessary (particularly during certain parts of the monsoon) would be required. After many complications related to designing and equipping such a system it was installed in 2007, at which point a year of testing throughout all the seasons was initiated.

The Weather Station

Moving the Collection

MOVING THE COLLECTIONS. Moving in the collections of archival materials and Baba treasures, which had been carefully kept and cared for in various locations at Meherabad and Meherazad, began in 2006. This could only commenced after the areas of the MeM which would receive them were deemed environmentally safe and once an effective systems for pest control was developed. After extensive consultation with museum and archive professionals it was determined that a programme of freezing, particularly for cloth and paper items, would eradicate any and all of the insects (and their eggs) which had even the remotest possibility of being in collection items. This is an ongoing process, but by early 2007 a significant percentage of the written materials collection had been moved to the MeM, frozen and awaits rehousing and scanning.